HOUSING ADVICE ADVENT CALENDAR

Check out our advent calendar below!

DAY 1

Your Students’ Union are delighted to bring you our Housing Advent! Packed full of ideas to help you understand your rights and your responsibilities of renting your own home.

The calendar aims to guide you through the sometimes difficult issues, for example when things aren’t going well with your landlord and you need to complain.

Remember to always approach your landlord or letting agent in the first instance, if something isn’t right so that you give them the opportunity to make good. If this doesn’t work there are a number of things you can do. We’ll tell you about them in our Advent calendar, so keep watching this space daily!

To sweeten your holiday period we invite you to enter into our prize draw, when we will name one lucky winner in January.

DAY 2: Energy Performance Certificate

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives tenants and landlords information on the energy efficiency of their property. It gives the building a standard energy and carbon emission efficiency grade from ‘A’ to ‘G’, where ‘A’ is the most efficient. From the 1st April 2018, there will be a requirement for any property rented out to have a minimum energy performance rating of E. If your property is currently less than E, part of your EPC report will list the potential rating that the building could achieve with a few recommendations on how to do it. You can read more about the EPC regulations https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/minimum-energy-efficiency-standards.shtml>here.

The certificate has an ‘A’ to ‘G’ rating system, ‘A’ symbolising the best and ‘G’ the poorest level of energy efficiency. The average rating for a property in the UK is D or above, so if you wish to minimise your costs then you should seek accommodation which is rated D or above. It is always a good idea to ask to see the certificate when you view a property, and before you decide to sign contracts, so that you know how energy efficient the property is and whether you can save money.

The EPC will also provide you with a list of options on what can be done to minimise the use of energy making it more energy efficient. We recommend that you ask your landlord to carry out the ‘low cost’ measures. Poorly insulated or hard-to heat properties will be less energy sufficient and can end up costing you a lot in energy bills and heating. So even if the amount you will pay on rent is less than elsewhere, you may end up paying more on fuel.

If you’re unsure whether your home has a good energy rating, why not ask your landlord to see the EPC certificate, and check for yourself. You could save money on energy by working with your landlord to improve your home’s EPC rating.

DAY 3: Be a Good Tenant

As a tenant it is important that you acknowledge that you have rights but also responsibilities for your accommodation and local community such a local residents and neighbors. The Students’ Union is working together with the University on improving the relationship between University of Brighton students and the local residents with projects such as the Vice Chancellors ‘One Street Brighton’ which is a projects unfolding some of the issues affecting the relationship between students and the local residents, looking in to how we can improve this.

The Union and the University are hosting a variety of different events to help facilitate space for students and local residents to better their relationships which you can take part in for example ‘Big lunches’, Christmas events and Easter get together’.

Further to this we encourage you volunteer in the local community or to just at least say ‘hi’ to your neighbour! Introducing yourself and being mindful to your neighbours will help you get on well.

Besides respecting your neighbours it is also important that you respect the property you are renting. There will be certain things that you will be in charge of as a tenant such as paying bills on time, ventilating the property to help stop condensation building up, locking doors and closing windows to keep the property safe, heating, respecting the landlords property already within your home, and cleaning the property at the end of your tenancy, not to mention keeping the garden tidy and grass cut.

DAY 4: Fire

There should be smoke alarms on each floor in your property and it is up to your landlord to make sure that this is complied with. Your landlord must follow safety regulations; provide smoke alarms on each story and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliances. The landlord must also check that you have access to escape routes at all times, make sure all furniture is fire safe, and provide fire alarms and fire extinguishers if the property is a large house in a multi-occupational property. 

 

However, it is important to remember that it is your responsibility to ensure that no smoking takes place within the property (this is usually part of the contract, but check to be sure) and that you turn of any appliances if going away for periods of time.

DAY 5: Mould

Mould is not only bad for your health, it also smells and looks horrible. If you do not clean it properly it always tends to find a way back and it can be the most frustrating thing to have to deal with.

Mould is not a classed as a severe health hazard; however, but it can harm you if it is just left.

It is important that you look back at the previous advice of looking at the EPC for the property which you are thinking of renting as this will give you an indication of the insulation, ventilation and energy proficiency of the property.

Mould is caused by high humidity in the property. Humidity is not damage itself, it’s the result of damage to the property. Depending on what caused the mould you landlord might be responsible for any repairs.

You can contact Environmental health if you need someone to come out and look at the property or if you wish to file a complaint https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/a-z/a-z-pages/environmental-health>here.

Otherwise you can purchase a humidity monitor on Amazon for very cheap money. If you have a high reading this may be able to persuade your landlord to get you a dehumidifier.

DAY 6

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DAY 7: Gas

By law, landlords must have all gas appliances serviced regularly, normally once a year by a Gas Safe registered engineer. The Gas Safe registered engineer will provide a Gas Safety record upon completion of the check. You should ensure that the landlord shows you a current (not more than 1 years old) Gas Safety Certificate when you move in or beforehand.

DAY 8: Your Landlord

There are certain responsibilities of yourself as tenants as well as that of your landlord. Make sure you familiarise yourself with what you can expect from your landlord when you move in to your new property and what is your responsibility.

It is important that you keep yourself informed about what you can expect from your landlord and that you know what to do if you wish to make a formal complaint or are looking for advice and support.

It is expected that your landlord has checked that any tenant can legally rent within the UK, that all tenants are 18 years or older, that the property’s structure and exterior is up to standard. Repairs includes basins, sinks, baths, pipes, drains, heating, hot water, gas appliances, flues, ventilation, electrical wiring and any damage caused by attempting repairs.

Further to this it is usually the landlord who is responsible for repairing common areas. It is also the landlord’s responsibility to ensure the safety of gas, electrical and fire.

If you wish to make a complaint you either go to the Union, the accommodations services within the University or straight to your landlord through their complaints procedure.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 make your landlord responsible for repairing the structure and exterior of your home. The Housing Act 2004 makes it clear that ‘the structure and exterior of the property’ includes all outside walls, roof, external doors and windows.

The landlord is also responsible for the exterior of the property, the supply of water and the maintenance of the plumbing. Any damage they cause to the interior will also be a responsibility of the landlord. This refers to for example plumbing work, pipes leaking water, loose fitting, drains leaking water or if rubber seals and gaskets require replacement.

DAY 9: Noise

The number one issue between students and local residents can be anti-social behaviour and noise complaints.

It is possible to achieve a good relationship, by taking a few simple steps to better the understanding from both groups. For example by saying hi and introducing yourself to your neighbour and by getting involved with the local community, you will create friendships and relations which will increase the tolerance between you and your neighbour.

If you do not understand each other or do not wish to respect each others needs, incidents may occur.

DAY 10: Physical health and housing

Poor housing can lead to poor health and exacerbate existing health conditions. A warm, dry and secure home is associated with better health. Poor mental health caused by poor housing conditions can be a factor for poor physical health as well as depression. The lack of energy to get out and get going as well as cleaning the house and do grocery shopping can have a detrimental factor on the physical health of an individual.

DAY 11: Condensation

Damp and condensation problems are the most commonly found issues in the British households. More than a third of all households (37%) report they have condensation issues. Damp in the property creates a thriving environment for the growth and of mould. In fact, households reporting mould are only slightly less (24%) than those reporting condensation problems.

Most often condensation and mould is a by-product of the tenant’s activities in the property. Many of the things we do in our daily routine produce steam or heat variances that cause condensation to accumulate in certain areas of the property. Once condensation settles on the surfaces, the water droplets soak inside. Repeated exposures can kick-start mould growing on the surface. It is therefore important to ensure that the property gets enough ventilation after showers, cooking, drying clothes indoors as well as your furniture needing air circulation.

DAY 12: Make sure you turn taps off

When you leave your property for the holidays, make sure that you turn off all taps. The consequences can be devastating if you don’t as water can destroy most of your property if a tap is left over a number of days with no other occupants within the property. Let your landlord know that you will be out of the property for a substantial amount of time, so the landlord can check if you remember that you haven’t done so.

DAY 13: Dispose of all food which will go past expire date

You can either give this to your local food bank or you can give any dried, sealed and in date food to your halls reception. For any fresh, but sealed food products, you can get in contact with your local homeless shelter that will most likely be able to make use of the products. Don’t just bin your food you can end up throwing out a lot which could benefit someone less fortunate, especially up to Christmas and when the weather is getting colder.

DAY 14: Notify your landlord if you leave your accommodation for a longer period of time

Most landlords will appreciate you telling them if you attend to leave the property for more than a week with no one physically within the property at this time. This is to ensure that your landlord does not contact you or expects you to be at the property within that timeframe, but it also allows your landlord to look after and ensure that your stuff is still safe and to look out for any suspicious behaviours near your property.

Following this, you can let your neighbour know to look out and contact your landlord if anything suspicious takes place whilst you’re away.

DAY 15: Last day of term – Security

It’s Friday and the last day of term. Most of you will leave either today or over the weekend, so make sure you go through the advent calendar to ensure that you are all set to leave your property for the Christmas holiday.

Please don’t post anything on social media about where you live or the fact that you have left your property as this may be a clue to burglars breaking in to your property knowing that no one will be in. Some insurance companies do also not cover any break-ins if you have posted anything online beforehand.

Make sure you lock all doors and close all windows.

DAY 16

During the cold months, heating must be somewhat even throughout all the rooms. If you only heat the bedroom, while the kitchen stays unheated the temperature difference will produce condensation in the unheated room and mould will start to appear.

There is a much debate about whether or not you should set the radiators or central heating system to work all the time or only as or when needed to provide slight background heating.

It can however be very important that you leave the heating on low or on at certain times when you leave for Christmas. You may think that this is a waste of money, but the onus will be on you if your pipes get too cold and burst because you haven’t left the heating on when leaving the property for a longer period of time.

DAY 17

The big Christmas switch off is a campaign by the University's environmental team. The project is to encourage students and staff to help their project C-change cut carbon emission during the holiday period. If you want to find out more please have a look at: http://about.brighton.ac.uk/sustainability/campus/cchange/

It is important for you to remember to switch off before you leave for the holidays as it is good for the environment and your energy bill. It can end up costing you a fortune of unnecessary energy waste. If you sign up to the big switch off with C-Change the savings made on the energy bills will be put towards the university's Global Opportunities Scholarship Fund which supports refugee status students.

DAY 18

It doesn't matter if you are a student or not, it is always polite to say hi & introduce yourself to your neighbour.

This is the first step for you to create a relationship with your local community and a sign that many local residents will show that you do care and respect them. It will also give you an indication of who lives next door. Is it a family with young kids or is it an elderly couple? This may give you an indication of how to respect others around you by not playing load music on a weekday and to consider their lifestyle as much as you wish for them to consider yours.

By introducing yourself you have opened a dialog, in which mutual understanding can take place and help with disputes before it escalates.

That said you should still feel like you can live at the property and have fun. The student lifecycle is like no other, and is far from everyday life of a family. It is important to remember this.

Other than introducing yourself you should also:

  • Inform neighbours before you have a party at your property, in good time, at least 48 hours beforehand. Tell them the details – hey, even invite them!
  • Practice parking etiquette – be considerate, don’t block other’s access and don’t take up the whole street.
  • Keep your outside areas and gardens tidy.
  • • Put refuse and recycling out on the right days – You can have a look at Brighton City Council here http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/environment/recycling-rubbish-and-street-cleaning-0
  • Touch base with your neighbours and ask them how they are. Nothing says you care, more than asking how someone is. Show you care, and you’ll get on fine with those around you

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DAY 25

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